How to discuss Searle, etc.

I’d like to open up a (carefully moderated, as usual) discussion about strategies people are taking for discussing men like Searle, with high-profile allegations of misbehaviour against them.  I’ve had two discussions of this issue just in the last couple days, and I’m wondering what others think.  Here’s what came out of the discussions I had:

  1. If you can avoid teaching/discussing them, that may be the best strategy.
  2. You should mention the allegations, making clear that you think the behaviour is unacceptable, but also flag up efforts to improve things in the field.
  3. For conference papers (and sometimes in teaching), additional issues are raised by the fact that you may well have victims of these particular people in the audience.  This means that it’s important to have a well-publicised abstract that can serve as a content warning for people who want to avoid mention of them/prepare themselves.

What else do people suggest?

Kate Manne on harassment, assault, and mandatory reporting

An important article, which contains upsetting descriptions of sexual harassment and assault.  It makes a powerful case for mandatory reporting of sexual harassment.  This is something I have a lot of qualms about because (a) I want victims to be comfortable talking to someone about what’s happened even when they’re not comfortable about reporting it; (b) I don’t want to take more autonomy away from victims who have already had their autonomy disrespected; (c) even when anonymity is guaranteed it is often very easy for harassers to figure out who has complained and to retaliate.  Still, this is a powerful case on the other wide of this issue.


Read it here.

Gratitude for Joanna Ong’s bravery

Once more, philosophy has made the national news with a sexual harassment case, this time against John Searle.

Despite being a reasonably well plugged-in person, I did not know about allegations of this particular sort of behaviour from Searle until the story broke.  Now, I’m learning that others had been hearing about it for a long time.   (This kind of information does not always circulate in the way that people expect it to.)  Over and over again.  This is why it’s so incredibly important when victims are willing to come forward as Joanna Ong has done.  Our entire profession owes an enormous debt to brave people like her.

Comments will be heavily moderated.  We welcome further expressions of support for Ong. We don’t welcome questioning of her integrity.  You may not agree with this policy.  That’s OK– there will be other places you can say the things we don’t want here.

How Did Clinton Lose: A discussion in two parts

This looks like must-see discussion.  (Can’t wait to watch it!) Participants:

Part 1 (afternoon)

Laurie A. Rudman, Professor of Psychology, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences
Corinne Moss-Racusin, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Skidmore College
Maya Godbole, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
Noelle Malvar, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
Virginia Valian, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Hunter College
Charles Tien, Professor of Political Science, Hunter College

Part 2 (evening)


Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer, Levo
Hon. Kathy Hochul, New York State Lieutenant Governor
Karen Hunter (Moderator), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, radio talk-show host and Distinguished Lecturer, Film & Media Department, Hunter College
Sonia Ossorio, President, National Organization of Women in New York
Christine Quinn, President & Chief Executive Officer, Women in Need
Gloria Steinem, Writer, Lecturer, Political Activist, and Feminist Leader

Obituary: Pamela Sue Anderson

We are very saddened to hear that Pamela Sue Anderson, a leading figure in feminist philosophy of religion has died.  She, like Jean Grimshaw, was one of the founders of SWIP UK.  The Oxford obituary is here.


Please feel free to share your thoughts and remembrances in comments.

CFP: Bias in Context, Salt Lake City



University of Utah, Salt Lake City

October 12 – 13 2017



THEME: What is the relationship between psychological and structural explanations of persistent social injustice?


This conference—the final in a series of four—considers recent empirical and philosophical work that frames social injustice in terms of individualistic psychological explanations.  Such explanations appeal to phenomena such as prejudice, implicit bias, stereotyping, and stereotype threat, in order to understand persisting inequities in a broad range of contexts, including educational, corporate, medical, and informal social contexts (Valian 1997; Fricker 2007; Antony 2012; Saul, 2013; Madva 2016).


A key challenge to these explanations, and the discourses that incorporate them, maintains that the focus on individual psychology is at best obfuscatory of, and at worst totally irrelevant to, more fundamental causes of injustice, which are institutional and structural (Young 1990; Cudd 2006, Anderson 2010; Ayala 2015, Haslanger 2015). Yet structural explanations face difficulties accommodating the extent to which individual agency is implicated in those problematic structures or institutions. Nor are they well placed to articulate how individual agency might be directed towards changing these structures.


This conference series will generate more fully worked-out understandings of the interaction between these two kinds of explanations.  It will also investigate the normative and practical implications of one’s explanatory mode on attempts to address injustices via institutional policy, interpersonal intervention, and collective action.



  • Dr. Kristie Dotson
  • Dr. Adam Hosein
  • Dr. Theresa Lopez & Dr. Brian Chambliss
  • Dr. Kate Manne
  • Dr. Mari Mikkola
  • Dr. Jennifer Mueller
  • Dr. Victoria Plaut
  • Dr. Flannery Stevens
  • Dr. Ásta (Sveinsdóttir)


CALL FOR POSTER PRESENTATIONS:  There will be a poster session associated with conference, to be held on its first day.  Up to eight participants will be invited to present their work.  If you are interested in presenting, please submit an abstract of up to 1500 words on a theme associated with the conference, ready for anonymous review.  We encourage submissions from postgraduate and early career researchers.  We in particular welcome submissions from individuals who identify as members of under-represented groups.  Note that we hope to invite researchers working in a wide range of fields, including black studies, disabilities studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, law, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.


For examples of papers/presentations within our theme, please see the programs from past conferences:


***Accommodation costs & registration for poster presenters will be covered.  We may also be able to contribute a small amount to travel costs, but the amount (if any) is to be determined***


Abstracts should be prepared for anonymous review, and submitted via email by the 15th of May 2017. Submissions should be made to Louise Pederson, administrative assistant, at

More information go to our website:

What if Trump and Clinton switched genders?

Someone actually trained up actors to find out!  And the results are surprising, though in retrospect not surprising.  Most people predict in advance that a woman wouldn’t be able to get away with Trump’s behaviour, and that a male Clinton would breeze to success.  But instead the female Trump is kind of appealing and the male Clinton isn’t.  However, a bit more reflection makes this not so shocking: a man behaving like Clinton is displaying some stereotypically feminised behaviours, and a woman behaving like Trump is displaying masculine ones.  And which do we valorise more?


Read all about it here.

Obituary: Jean Grimshaw

I’ve been teaching Jean Grimshaw’s work for about 20 years now.  I was very sad to learn just now that she has died.  I’ve been sent a collection of remembrances for this important philosopher and founder of SWIP UK.

                         In Memory of Jean Grimshaw (1941-2017)


Introduction: Martin Barker, Alison Assiter and Morwenna Griffiths

Jean Grimshaw, who died on February 1st 2017, was one of the founder members of SWIP – and of the informal network of philosophers which preceded it. She was a distinctive and significant figure in British feminist philosophy circles. She fizzed with energy and enthusiasm and it is hard to think of her as anything but alive.


Her position and style are best seen in her Feminist Philosophers (1986), which critically examined the ways in which the mainstream philosophical tradition was heavily gendered, and then looked at the implicit assumptions and models inside a range of feminist critiques of that tradition. Jean’s originality was not in having a big original theory of her own, but in bringing to bear the best critical eye out of the British analytic tradition to disclose assumptions about ‘self’, ‘authenticity’, ‘relations of reason and desire’, ‘bodies’, and so on. She also confronted masculinist biases how in the subject matter of orthodox philosophy drew on the experiences of males. She always wanted to challenge ill-formulated ideas, and lack of clarity. But with respect to all kinds of feminist thinking, she was always constructive with the intention of bringing out the best in all traditions and kinds of thinking.


Jean taught for 25 years at Bristol Polytechnic/University of the West of England on the forebear of the philosophy programme at UWE Bristol. One module she taught with Martin Barker in the 1970s was called ‘Models of Man’ – or was called that until they both read Dale Spender’s (1980) Man-Made Language. After reading it, they looked at each other and said, “That title has to change!” The course was important as an early example of students being asked to look the ways claims about human needs and desires, cultural processes and power relations could be found in the ordinary language of the media or of official documents. Jean’s primary interests were in doing this sort of work within feminist theory and philosophy, where she rehearsed her skills to the best effect. In the 1990s she played a central role in the development of an MA in Women’s Studies at UWE but sadly it went the way of many such committed programmes as universities increasingly neo-liberalised. But among the students who went through that programme are several who have gone on to hold important positions in other British universities. They always valued Jean’s teaching.


Alison Assiter

I remember Jean as vivacious and lively. Her book was really important to me as the first intervention in feminist philosophy and so beautifully written and clear. Other philosophers have said the same about it.


Martin Barker

Jean Grimshaw was my colleague and friend at Bristol Polytechnic/University of the West of England for 25 years – until she retired and I moved elsewhere on the same day in 1998. Jean constituted one third of a ‘terrible trio’ with Anne Beezer and myself who, together, developed a programme of cultural studies-style courses in the early 1970s. (In many a Departmental Minute we were collectively known as ‘JAM’ …) Anne came from a sociological background, Jean and I came from philosophy (in Jean’s case, via initially teaching the philosophy of education to teacher trainees). But although for many purposes we spoke with a single voice, each of us had distinctive positions and styles.


I have a number of distinctive memories of Jean, as friend and colleague. I remember the surprisingly shy way in which she showed me her book when it first came out in 1986. I remember the day in 1990 when she burst into a class I was teaching, to yell excitedly ‘She’s gone!’ – when news had just broken of Margaret Thatcher resigned. I remember the day (but not the date) when, the three of us sharing an office and Anne and I utterly involved in tutoring students, there was a different kind of yell from behind us, and we turned just in time to see Jean hurl a chair across the room in frustration at her inability to work with so much noise.


Jean could be funny, irascible, precise, and very determined. She moved fast through life. She smoked heavily throughout. She loved her red wine, and other libations. She was a keep-fit (or perhaps better, keep-stretchy) fanatic. She was a lot of fun and ideas. Although I know that she was very critical of the masculinist assumptions that underlie many notions of ‘human nature’ and ‘humanism’, she was to me a humanist in the very best senses of the word. Goodbye, Jean.


Anne Seller:

My best memory of Jean is of a SWIP gathering at her home on slopes above Bristol. It was a brilliant summer day so we moved outside in her large garden, where we talked, listened to each other’s papers, laughed a lot, and had inspiring, invigorating discussions, which always seemed to lead somewhere. A gathering of good friends, sharing mutual interests and intellectual concerns, we were living our vision of what universities would be like without the aggression, competitiveness and fear of our largely masculine departments. With her sense of fun, commitment, and ideas , Jean made a big contribution to such gatherings. The happiness of this particular day for me is her memorial; a part of my life.


Morwenna Griffiths:

Jean gave me my first introduction to the very idea that feminism was relevant to philosophy at a staff seminar in Bristol University where I was a PhD student. She electrified the usually rather sober and sedate meeting with her critique of masculinist thinking in philosophy. Later in 1983, when my PhD was newly complete, Joanna Hodge and I invited all the British female philosophers we could think of to a meeting in Oxford to discuss how feminism and philosophy might relate to each other. Most of the women we invited came: just eleven of us, not all of us working in Philosophy departments. Jean’s radiant energy, impish sense of humour and keen insights helped to create the atmosphere of the meeting. It was characterised by intellectual excitement mixed with bursts of laughter and shared experiences of being in very largely male working environments.


That first meeting inspired a number of others, run on a shoestring. Jean’s drive, energy and imagination helped keep us going. Rooms were booked in university rooms in London to which we brought a kettle, coffee and biscuits and where we discussed our developing ideas, as well as finding support and friendship at a time where there were very few women teaching philosophy, let alone feminist philosophy.


After two or three years of this, we decided to declare ourselves a Society and to publish a newsletter. SWIP came into being. It was about this time that Jean’s book, Feminist Philosophers was published. At the time there were very few books anywhere that related feminism and philosophy and Jean’s monograph was both ground-breaking and influential. The book seem to be less significant now like much published at that time, in what was a very different political and philosophical context. However, her legacy remains in the significant part she played in the process of creating spaces for women and feminism in philosophy. I was privileged to be one of those who read the manuscript of her book before its final version came out. It immediately influenced my own thinking, writing and teaching, shaping how I understood the world and my changing place within it.


I was very sad to learn that Jean had died. She was a valued friend, helpful and supportive throughout my own career in philosophy and education. My life has been the richer for knowing her.


Or Celebrate International Women’s Day…


With some philosophical radio!

A reader writes:

Happy International Women’s Day! In case you haven’t come across it already and your readers are interested, I wanted to bring to your attention this radio interview from last Sunday. It includes the following

– an account of a post-war period in which men were absent from philosophy because of WWII, and Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, and Mary Midgley emerged as leading philosophers

– an interview with Midgley herself about her experiences in this period

– using this as a springboard for Fiona Jenkins to discuss climate issues and what it’s like for women in philosophy at the moment.